Microsoft has finally released official details on its not quite super-secret social search tool So.cl. The social site generated quite a bit of buzz this summer when a preview of the home page was accidentally released into the wild. Were all the guesses about So.cl correct? Of course not.
So.cl Is Definitely Not Facebook
In July, we reported that Microsoft was working on a new social search effort code name Tulalip. The company purchased a domain for the site only a few days after the widely proclaimed Google+ launch. This led many to believe that Microsoft would soon be the proud owner of a new social network to attract the masses.
The rumors were true -- kind of. Microsoft does have a new social network, but it’s not the latest Facebook killer. The last time we visited the site, the homepage featured an apology from Microsoft for its embarrassing slip into prime time. The page has been updated with official details and the opportunity to sign up for the service.
Unfortunately, the service is not live and signup only adds you to a waiting list. If you are invited to join the preview, you will be able to invite your friends. If you were hoping for another free site to store photos of your drunken office holiday party escapades, you are out of luck. So.cl, pronounced social, isn’t Microsoft attempt to be next Twitter, Google+ or Tumblr. It’s also not a search engine. What is it exactly?
So.cl is a tool for students that use social media to enhance learning that Microsoft’s FuSE team has been testing internally and with the University of Washington, Syracuse University and New York University. So.cl is a combination of social networking and search designed to spur innovation in the use of social media in academia. The tool was built using the technology behind Bing. So.cl allows users to create posts with photos, video, text and other content. Users can find members with similar interests and build communities around them.
Microsoft has published an FAQ about the service, which provides additional details.
So.cl is certainly pretty, but it remains to be seen if it will transform how academics interact with social media. Microsoft has said there are no plans to integrate the features into any of its enterprise products like Sharepoint or Outlook, perhaps trying to combat the outcry that Microsoft is “getting them young” so they will demand Microsoft once they enter the workforce. We will continue watching So.cl as it moves beyond the preview state to see if it manages to permeate academia.